Veteran Iditarod musher Aliy Zirkle evacuated to Anchorage after being injured on way into Rohn checkpoint

Musher Aliy Zirkle also created Husky Homeroom, a weekly virtual field trip for students and...
Musher Aliy Zirkle also created Husky Homeroom, a weekly virtual field trip for students and educators. Undated photo.(none)
Published: Mar. 9, 2021 at 12:50 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - UPDATE, Tuesday morning: The Iditarod – via its public relations firm – has announced that Aliy Zirkle officially scratched from the 2021 race.

Additionally, along with race officials and volunteers, the Alaska Air National Guard was among those who responded to assist.

“The Iditarod is a world-class event traversing through remote Alaska,” said Alaska Air National Guard Senior Master Sgt. Evan Budd. “Their team did a great job ensuring medical aid is readily available along the trail, developing contingency plans and swiftly activating them.”

Zirkle was found to have sustained multiple injuries after suffering a fall while on her way into the Rohn checkpoint. Among those, officials said, were a concussion and injuries to her upper body.

The veteran musher was released from an Anchorage hospital Tuesday morning, according to an emailed statement, and was last known to be in Anchorage with her family, awaiting departure for her home in Two Rivers, just outside of Fairbanks.

ORIGINAL STORY: Veteran Iditarod musher Aliy Zirkle, who shortly before this year’s race announced she would retire after participating in the 49th running of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, was injured upon arriving at a race checkpoint Monday night and is being taken to Anchorage for assessment, according to Iditarod Race Marshal Mark Nordman.

Nordman said little in a prepared statement emailed by the race’s public relations firm but stated that Zirkle was “injured while coming in to the Rohn checkpoint” at around 8 p.m. Monday evening.

He said that Zirkle is currently in “stable condition,” but did not elaborate on her injuries or their cause.

“But based on information provided by a volunteer with medical training, I notified the Alaska State Troopers and the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center for assistance,” Nordman said. “The Alaska RCC is airborne and en route to the checkpoint to pick up Aliy and will transport her to Anchorage for further evaluation.”

As for her dog team, they remained at the Rohn checkpoint as of Monday night. Nordman said Zirkle’s 14 dogs were not hurt and are being cared for by volunteers.

A Facebook post from Zirkle’s kennel said her husband, Allen Moore, was headed to Anchorage to meet her.

“We don’t know much else yet, other than it happened on the trail between Rainy Pass and Rohn,” the post said. “Communications out of Rohn are not great at the best of times due to the terrain. [...] We will update you when we know more. We are utterly devastated for Aliy and the dogs.”

The route between Rainy Pass and Rohn includes several infamous sections of trail, including Dalzell Gorge. There are also some areas of twisting trails and steep downhills on the way out, heading toward Rohn.

Wearing bib number 32, Zirkle officially checked in to Rohn at 8:05 p.m. Monday night. She was en route from Rainy Pass for four hours and two minutes, a time comparable to many of her counterparts.

GPS tracking still showed Zirkle as resting in the Rohn checkpoint as of press time. No announcement of her officially scratching from the race has been made, though outside assistance eliminates a musher’s racing status – as would her medical evacuation – per Iditarod rules.

Zirkle first raced in the Iditarod as a rookie in 2001, taking 33rd place that year. She’s competed and finished the race every year since then, boasting seven top-ten finishes including a trio of runner-up honors from 2012 to 2014.

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